Miami Jewish Health System pushes vast expansion
Written by John Charles Robbins on November 28, 2017
Miami Jewish Health Systems is moving ahead with its major expansion plans and has earned preliminary approval from city commissioners.
Phase I is set to begin next year and include construction of a cutting-edge memory care facility to be called Empathicare Village, a substantial addition to the medical campus in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood.
The health system has been operating from 5200 NE Second Ave. since the 1940s, and the updated master plan is for the next 30 years and beyond.
The city commission recently voted favorably on four items tied to the expansion, including a street closure, land use changes, zoning changes, and an amended development agreement with the City of Miami.
The street closure was approved, and the other three items passed on a first reading with a final vote yet to come.
The first item allows the health system to close part of Northeast First Avenue (Northeast Miami Place) and Northeast 52nd Terrace within the Miami Jewish Health Systems’ properties, and seven easements also within the medical campus site.
Outgoing Commissioner Frank Carollo got a promise from the health system to hire a good portion of employees from Miami, for both temporary construction jobs and long-term staff positions.
Some of those details are to be fine-tuned before the final votes.
The expansion plan is to unfold in several phases, and Mr. Carollo said he wanted to make sure there are requirements to hire local residents for each phase and to have a third party regularly audit those employment numbers and report compliance to the city.
Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon noted that Miami Jewish Health Systems is proud of providing long-term jobs to locals.
“I’ve seen it. Thank you for that,” said Mr. Hardemon, whose District Five includes Little Haiti.
In a letter about the expansion, attorney Iris Escarra on behalf of the health system speaks of the impact of jobs the redevelopment will bring to the community.
The increase in capacity will allow the health system “to provide more jobs, and to better serve the community through new programs and more room for patients.”
She said an economic study shows the average development construction phase employment will be for about 1,174 employees, and the project management is expected to employ eight people for ongoing oversight of the site and marketing during the development phase.
The expansion will also lead to an increase in recurring jobs totaling 170 employees throughout the multiple-phase project.
“Development jobs will range from construction to truck transportation and marketing research, and operation jobs will include hotel and hospital workers,” Ms. Escarra wrote.
The health system’s expansion plans are included in a requested Special Area Plan.
The city’s zoning code, Miami 21, says the purpose of a Special Area Plan is to allow parcels of 9 abutting acres or more to be master planned to allow greater integration of public improvements and infrastructure, and “greater flexibility so as to result in higher or specialized quality building and Streetscape design.”
The medical campus of about 20 acres provides 24-hour-a-day services for its patients, including on-site hospital and ambulatory health clinic, specialized centers for biofeedback, mental health, rehabilitation, and memory centers, and assisted living facilities.
Miami Jewish Health Systems currently provides 104 assisted living facilities with the proposed addition of 99 beds, for a total of 203 assisted living facility beds.
The nonprofit senior health care provider has hired c.c. hodgson architectural group to design the new master plan for its property, border by Northeast 53rd Street, Northeast Second Avenue, Northeast 50th Terrace, Northeast Miami Place, Northeast 52nd Street and North Miami Avenue.
The architectural firm specializes in wellness-based design services.
The overall master plan shows the construction of 11 buildings and facilities, improvements to more than a half dozen existing structures, and demolition of five buildings and one pavilion.
A significant aspect of the master plan is consolidating parking into new multi-level garages, freeing old surface parking lots for new buildings and expanded open space.
In her letter, Ms. Escarra says the proposed Special Area Plan will enable the health provider to expand its impact on the community by providing the Empathicare Village, an institute to promote research, and lodging for visiting researchers and families.
The Empathicare Village includes a 142,708-square-foot, three-story facility and a 135,576-square-foot, three-story garage accented by murals from local artists.
Ms. Escarra wrote that the Special Area Plan was designed to:
Promoting a neighborhood/campus for short- and long-term patients and their families.
In addition to on-site green space provided for residents, patients and families, provides more than an acre of civic space for the public.
Introduce the Empathicare Village, along the western portion of the campus, to meet the needs of an aging community.
Revitalize the neighborhood through design and innovation, along with providing needed support for the community’s healthcare needs.
Utilize sustainable technology and strategic initiatives and concepts.
The complete build-out of the master plan is to include a hotel and conference center.